Airbnb to hand over hosts’ details to Revenue Commissioners

11 Sep 2018

Smartphone with Airbnb app. Image: Tero Vesalainen/Shutterstock

Questions finally being raised over impact of short-term stay platforms on enduring housing crisis.

Airbnb hosts’ details are to be handed over to Ireland’s Revenue Commissioners ahead of new regulations governing the short-term letting market.

Airbnb has been required to report this information to the Revenue Commissioners every September since 2015 as part of an agreement with the tax authority. The report governing hosts’ earnings via the platform in 2017 will be submitted in September 2018.

The rise of the Airbnb economy has been irresistible and no doubt it offers travellers hitherto unimaginable choice rather than hotels and traditional B&Bs when they visit cities or regions. However, questions are being asked constantly around the world about the impact of short-term stay platforms in terms of exacerbating supply problems in the long-term rental market.

It is financially more attractive for landlords and property owners to rent out short-term stays, but this is happening at the same time as housing shortages spiral, homelessness increases and rental fees are going through the roof. Not only that, but there are claims that legitimate B&B business owners who pay taxes and rates, and invest in their properties, are struggling in the face of competition from online platforms.

The long and short of the accommodation crisis

Airbnb, which was founded in San Francisco in 2008 by Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, enables people to rent out their homes to globetrotters. It has more than 3m lodgings listed in 65,000 cities in 191 countries worldwide.

The company, which is valued at north of $30bn, is something of a jewel in Dublin’s digital crown and it employs 500 people, with rumours it could actually double in size to 1,000 people in the next year.

In Ireland, hosts earned more than €115m in 2017 with Airbnb and the average host had guests for 37 days out of the last year. There are 22,800 active listings, with that figure consistently on the increase, and 1.2m guests who used the platform to stay in Ireland in 2017 came from abroad.

According to The Irish Times, property site has 1,288 properties for rent in the capital, but about 20pc of these are short-term lets.

The details that will be handed over to the Revenue Commissioners include the name of hosts, how much they earn, the address of the property being let out via Airbnb, the host’s home address, expenses such as cleaning fees, and the date of the first booking.

The move comes as the Department of Housing drafts new regulations aimed at preventing short-term stay platforms from sucking up supply in the already over-stretched long-term rental market.

Updated, 1.00pm, 12 September 2018: This article has been updated to clarify that Airbnb has been required to submit hosts’ details to the Revenue Commissioners since 2015 and this is separate from the upcoming Irish Government regulations governing the short-term letting market.

Smartphone with Airbnb app. Image: Tero Vesalainen/Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years